Will the winning Powerball ticket holders please step forward?

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 9:33am

The new parlor game gripping two cities a thousand miles apart -- "Who Won the Powerball" -- ramped up Friday amid rumors, speculation and tantalizing clues.

In Missouri, the rural, 500-resident town of Dearborn was buzzing with speculation ahead of a scheduled 12 p.m. news conference with lottery officials at a high school to announce what the agency called "the winners" of the Show Me State share of the record-setting Powerball jackpot.

While the release seemed to hint at the possibility of a group win, Kansas City area media outlets were reporting the winning ticket is held by a 52-year-old Dearborn man named Mark Hill.

"It was us," Hill's son, Jason Hill, quoted his dad as saying in announcing the win to the family, reported CNN affiliate KCTV.

"I hope we all stay very grounded, stay humble and don't forget who we are," he told the station.

Missouri Lottery officials have not yet confirmed the identity of the winner, who will get half of the largest Powerball jackpot ever, $587.5 million.

The question of who won the Arizona jackpot took an interesting twist Thursday when a man walked into a convenience store in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to casually check a stash of lottery tickets, CNN affiliate WJLA reported. The man said he'd bought at least one of the tickets in Arizona, according to store clerk Nagassi Ghebre.

He pumps his arms a few times, then gives the ticket to Ghebre, and eventually a customer for verification.

"And that's when he said, 'I gotta get out of here' and he took off," Ghebre said. "He came back a minute later and said, 'I forgot to get my gas.' "

At a Dearborn Trex Mart gas station, clerk Kristi Williams asked every customer the same question Thursday after news broke that the winning ticket was purchased there.

"As soon as they walk in the door, 'Have you checked your ticket?' " she told CNN affiliate KCTV of Kansas City.

The other winning ticket was sold thousands of miles away at the Four Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills, just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, state lottery spokeswoman Karen Bach said. The winner hasn't come forward there.

"Unbelievable," said Four Sons manager Bob Chebat. "Everyone comes in here buying tickets, joking they'll take care of you if they win. But chances are so slim that it becomes standard that no one does win. I just don't know what to say. I'm shocked. I hope I was the guy who sold the winning ticket."

The Arizona store will receive $25,000 for selling the winning ticket, while the Missouri store will get $50,000. The payout to sellers varies state to state as it is determined by each state's lottery officials.

The prize for the lottery -- held in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia -- swelled to the largest in Powerball history after the jackpot rolled over 16 times without a winner.

It still doesn't match the U.S. record payout of $656 million, set in March by a Mega Millions jackpot. Three winners split that pot.

California added its name Thursday to the states participating in Powerball, with the California Lottery Commission voting unanimously to adopt the mega-jackpot lottery game. Powerball tickets will go on sale in California on April 8, 2013.

Lottery officials previously urged winners to take their time coming forward.

Winners should sign the ticket, put it in a safe place and seek legal and financial advice before redeeming it, Missouri Lottery Director May Scheve Reardon said.

Whoever comes forward with the winning tickets may want to speak to Donald Lawson. The Michigan man won the $337 million Powerball prize in August and vowed that the new infusion of green would not change him -- or his eating habits.

"I'm a millionaire now, but I'll still go to McDonald's," he said as he stood smiling at the Michigan Lottery headquarters in Lansing.

Back in Dearborn, resident Bill Matney said he hoped the winning ticket holder didn't "get deluged by a lot of people wanting part of their winnings."

"And that they put it to a good use like charity," he told KCTV. "I mean, who can spend that much money?"

-- CNN's Shawn Nottingham and Kyung Lah contributed to this report.

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